Slope Identification and Decision Making: A Comparison of Linear and Ratio Graphs

Richard M. Kubina, Seth A. King, Madeline Halkowski, Shawn Quigley, Tracy Kettering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Applied behavior analysts have traditionally relied on visual analysis of graphic data displays to determine the extent of functional relations between variables and guide treatment implementation. The present study assessed the influence of graph type on behavior analysts’ (n = 51) ratings of trend magnitude, treatment decisions based on changes in trend, and their confidence in decision making. Participants examined simulated data presented on linear graphs featuring equal-interval scales as well as graphs with ratio scales (i.e., multiply/divide or logarithmic vertical axis) and numeric indicators of celeration. Standard rules for interpreting trends using each display accompanied the assessment items. Results suggested participants maintained significantly higher levels of agreement on evaluations of trend magnitude and treatment decisions and reported higher levels of confidence in making decisions when using ratio graphs. Furthermore, decision making occurred most efficiently with ratio charts and a celeration value. The findings have implications for research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-643
Number of pages29
JournalBehavior Modification
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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